Varicocele

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    What is Varicocele?

    Varicocele is a very common condition in adult males, affecting nearly 15 percent of them. In the condition of varicoceles, the veins in the scrotum become visibly enlarged or twisted. This happens due to damaged vein valves. The damaged valves do not function properly, resulting in a reflux of blood. The blood then starts to pool in the veins, thereby making them swollen and enlarged. Varicoceles quite often lead to infertility issues and thus require to be treated in time.

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    Symptoms

    In the majority of cases, there is no pain, but signs and symptoms of varicose veins may include:

    • Veins look twisted, swollen, and lumpy (bulging)
    • The veins are blue or dark purple

    Some patients may also experience:

    • Aching legs
    • Legs feel heavy, especially after exercise or at night
    • A minor injury to the affected area may result in longer bleeding than normal
    • Lipodermatosclerosis – fat under the skin just above the ankle can become hard, resulting in the skin shrinking
    • Swollen ankles
    • Telangiectasia in the affected leg (spider veins)
    • There may be a shiny skin discolouration near the varicose veins, usually brownish or blue in colour
    • Venous eczema (stasis dermatitis) – skin in the affected area is red, dry, and itchy
    • When suddenly standing up, some individuals experience leg cramps
    • A high percentage of people with varicose veins also have restless legs syndrome
    • Atrophie blanche – irregular whitish patches that look like scars appear at the ankles

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will likely examine your legs and visible veins while you’re sitting or standing to diagnose varicose veins. They may ask you about any pain or symptoms you’re having.

    Your doctor may also want to do an ultrasound to check your blood flow. This is a noninvasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves. It allows your doctor to see how blood is flowing in your veins.

    Depending on the location, a venogram may be done to further assess your veins. During this test, your doctor injects a special dye into your legs and takes X-rays of the area. The dye appears on the X-rays, giving your doctor a better view of how your blood is flowing.

    Tests such as ultrasounds or venograms help ensure that another disorder like a blood clot or a blockage isn’t causing the pain and swelling in your legs.

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